Canadian authorities have decided not to proceed with Monday’s scheduled deportation of a former Somali refugee and foster child detained at the Edmonton Remand Centre, his lawyer says.
The move came just hours after the United Nations asked the federal government to delay the deportation of Abdilahi Elmi.
“I have just received confirmation the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) has now cancelled his removal,” Idowu Ohioze, Elmi’s lawyer, told CBC Friday afternoon, adding that he received a one-line email.
“At least he’s got a temporary reprieve, so we will strategize and continue the fight.”
The CBSA decision took on added importance after a federal court on Friday afternoon rejected his application for a stay of removal.
That court ruling came on the same day the United Nations sent an email to Elmi’s supporters calling for a delay while the UN human rights committee reviews the case.
“The state party [Canada] has also been requested not to deport Mr. Abdilahi Ahmed Elmi to Somalia while his case is under consideration by the committee,” wrote special rapporteurs Yuval Shany and Christof Heyns.
The UN committee has also requested further information on the situation of returning refugees to Somalia.
Three lawyers made an application to the UN on Elmi’s behalf Thursday, the same day his lawyer argued in Federal Court for the stay of removal.
Scott Bardsley, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office, said the ministry is unable to comment on Elmi’s case for privacy reasons.
“Interim measures requests from the human rights committee are always considered by Canada,” he wrote. “While Canada generally provides time to further assess a case prior to removal, each request is carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.”
On Thursday, Ohioze argued in court that the danger Elmi faces in Somalia outweighs the risk of keeping him in Canada. Elmi was set to be deported to the Somali port city of Kismayo, where gunmen stormed a hotel last month and killed 25 people, including Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh.
In a recent series of news conferences and interviews, Elmi’s family and supporters said sending him back to the country he fled as a child would amount to a death sentence.
They argued that the government of Ontario, where Elmi became a ward of the state, failed to secure citizenship for him.
Elmi has a lengthy criminal record that includes various assault charges. A criminal sentence of more than six months makes non-citizens eligible for deportation.